Many are calling for dialogue between the Indian government & Kashmiris. What’s to talk about as long as there are Indian troops in Kashmir? How can there be dialogue with 700,000 guns pointing at Kashmiri civilians? The first demand should be for the withdrawal of those troops & only then is dialogue possible.

The Indian government & its braying chorus of nationalists are using the Pulwama incident to incite an uproar & make propaganda inroads against the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Because of repression, Kashmiris cannot always speak freely on social media lest their accounts be shut down. Supporting their political power against occupation requires us to step into the breach & respond to all the nationalist vituperations by demanding the withdrawal of Indian troops. This is not a time for compromise or conciliation but for steadfast support to one of the most important anti-colonial struggles of our times.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the furor over Pulwama, an action by a handful of young, misguided militants, several thousands times more energetic & vituperative than protest against the use of pellet guns in Kashmir or the constant violence faced by Kashmiris, including small children, at the hand of 700,000 Indian troops? No concessions can be made to such hypocrisy.

If the Indian government did not deploy 700,000 troops in Kashmir, no soldiers would get killed & tens of thousands of Kashmiris would not be executed, forcibly disappeared, tortured, jailed, raped, disabled, disfigured, terrorized. The only appropriate response to the Pulwama incident is to demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all Indian troops. All deaths because of occupation are solely the responsibility of the Indian government.

An Indian socialist & Assadist once ranted that my support for the Syrian Arab Spring was because as ‘a white person from the Christian tradition’ I was incapable of thought. Not the kind of argument that will bring me to my knees since it’s so tawdry. Now he’s carrying on about ‘martyred Jawan’ & posting articles about the rise of terrorism in Kashmir. Politically, it’s of a piece with his belief that the Syrian Arab Spring is all terrorists. He’s another socialist who bought right into the so-called war on terror which is the ideological cover for war, occupation, & genocide. What’s next for our man? Support for Modi like his support for Assad?

The “martyrdom of Jawan” in Kashmir? Seriously? Scratch an Assadist, find a nationalist. What’s next for those special forces troops? Canonization?

There are many compelling arguments against guerrilla warfare as a strategy to fight war, occupation, genocide. Not the least of which is that too many civilians get killed & it can become a substitute for building a massive social movement. It’s a strategy long disputed, including against the English occupation of Northern Ireland, against dictators in Latin America, against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, & more recently against the occupation of Kashmir, the Syrian Arab Spring uprising, & the genocide of the Rohingya in Burma. In Burma, the Arakan Salvation Army was not so much a guerrilla force as a self-defense organization for unarmed civilians sustaining genocide. The same was true of many guerrilla groups coming out of the Syrian Arab Spring uprising. It is not a question of opposing the use of arms against an oppressive military force but of what is the most effective method in the particular conditions of war, occupation, & genocide. Sometimes arms are necessary, so it is also not a question of condemning those who take up arms even when it may not be the most effective method. The distinctions between the oppressed & the oppressor are not altered one iota by the methods chosen to stand against tyranny.

This leads us to the suicide bomb attack today in Pulwama, Kashmir, where 42 CRPF Indian special forces troopers were killed. Antiwar activists from the oppressor countries like the US or India have to deal with this issue all the time. We do not applaud the deaths of soldiers–even special forces who are trained psychotics–because they leave families behind. But we also do not treat them as martyrs since that does not just compromise with military occupation but capitulates to it. They are not martyrs; they are occupying marauders responsible for the deaths, disabilities, disfigurement, & terrorizing of civilians. There can be no equivocation on that score.

But now we see Indian Assadists & even so-called socialists engaging in an orgy of nationalist hysteria over the deaths of their “beloved Jawan” & calling for tributes & protest rallies in their honor. Indian Assadist Feroze Mithiborwala is leading the braying chorus of nationalists calling for tributes. This comes as no surprise since during the 2016 Indian Army rampage in Kashmir where thousands of civilians were injured & killed, he referred to unarmed Kashmiri protesters as “angry mobs” & reproached Kashmiri youth for arson, looting, destruction of public property, & attacks with rocks on the Indian occupying army of 700,000 soldiers. It was a shameful & detestable defense of occupation cloaked in a sustained scolding of Kashmiri Intifada.

The response to the deaths of soldiers should not be to excoriate Kashmiris or impugn their freedom struggle but to demand the Indian government withdraw its troops & end the occupation. If you don’t get that, your identification with the Assad & Modi regimes more than makes political sense & is only worthy of condemnation.

(Photo from scene of Pulwama attack from Reuters)

Human rights activists oppose persecution whatever form it takes but only Assadists & right wing Christians actually believe the persecution of Christians is of international scope or even comes close to the persecution of Muslims. Assadists & nationalists are also the only ones calling for tributes to Indian soldiers killed in Kashmir & referring to them as martyrs.

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